IOWA CITY, Ia. – Here's our look at the candidates for the Iowa men's basketball coach opening.
We will used this space to update things we heard during the search. We're not sure when those are going to get to us, so please check in frequently for the latest news from Hawkeye Insider.
5 p.m. Thursday, March 25: The rumored names connected with the Iowa coaching search seemed to be coming and going at a quicker pace than when Todd Lickliter's firing was announced on March 15. It appears like some prospects come and go and come back again.
That's what happened with Gregg Marshall early on Thursday. Speculation surfaced early in the week that Marshall turned down an opportunity to interview with Iowa. Then I heard from a few sources today that he returned to the mix.
Marshall shot down the talk with his comments to the Wichita Eagle on Thursday. I heard that most of the Iowa newspapers on Thursday contacted Wichita State AD Eric Sexton, who likely approached his coach.
You never say never in the world of coaching searches, but Marshall brings back a real good team next season. Still, if he really isn't interested in even interviewing for the Iowa job, that's not a good thing in my mind. I could be reading too much into it, but I worry that the gig isn't very appealing or the money isn't what it needs to be.
Anyway, I spoke with Iowa women's basketball radio color analyst Shelley Till Thursday when she called into a show we do in town. She said she had heard Lon Kruger might be looking to get back to the Midwest as his daughter recently took a job in Chicago.
Kruger was a name that I heard early on, but his candidacy seemed to be dismissed because it was believed his wife really liked Las Vegas. But the word that he was looking for a job closer to his family in the Windy City and hoping to find a gig from which he'd like to retire might be something on which to keep an eye.
Another name I happened upon in the last few hours was that of former New Mexico State Coach and current Minnesota Timberwolves assistant Reggie Theus. It might have been just because Theus' name popped up for the Auburn job, which was filled by Tony Barbee on Wednesday. Theus also has been linked to openings at Central Florida and DePaul.
Theus did a great job at New Mexico State and has sounded like a guy looking to get back into college coaching.
Theus plays an up-tempo style and has a good track record in recruiting.
4 p.m. Wednesday, March 24: OK, let's get out of the way any new names I've heard in the last 24 hours - P.J. Carlesimo and Chris Mooney. I'll add that both of those possibilities are out there and hard to believe.
That's where we are on the search. Some of the rumors are becoming comical.
The only conversation I've had the last 24 hours that impacted me concerned B.J. Armstrong. I'll admit, I haven't been on the bandwagon of the baby-faced guard nor have I hopped on it yet.
The person I spoke with talked directly to B.J. Armstrong, who has expressed serious interest in the job. The source said that the former Hawkeye would take it if offered.
While I'd be worried about the lack of coaching experience, I think it could work if he brings in some of the assistant coaches I've heard at which he'd look.
Here are some names: Kevin Gamble, Ryan Bowen, and Rodell Davis, who I've heard would be willing to leave Providence. I've heard that B.J. also would like to bring in a veteran coach in the role of John Bach with the Bulls. It wouldn't necessarily be for the system, like Bach's triangle offense, but more for situational experience and eyes that have worked on a bench for a long time.
I've believed since Todd Lickliter was fired that we needed to make a splash with this hire. The new guy had to have name recognition to boost a program that had fallen into the depths of fan apathy. The task was tall enough without having to endure an empty arena and little support until it was turned around.
If the Hawkeyes miss on "name" coaches, B.J. would bring the sizzle. If he surrounded himself with the right staff, it could work.
4 p.m. Tuesday, March 23: According to a few sources, it appears that we might be moving closer to hiring Todd Lickliter's replacement. No duh, right? We should be closer.
I've heard that an announcement might come as early as Monday. That was the good news.
The bad news was that Gary Barta has been turned down by some of the candidates high on his list. I've started to worry that this hiring might not be of the knock-out, home run kind for which I had hoped.
I'm not sure Barta is as wild about Hewitt as much has been reported. Controversy is following him in Atlanta this season.
I starting to hear that the Iowa job might not be as attractive as we all might have hoped. Those folks that say that there is no way guys like Bruce Pearl, Jamie Dixon and Jay Wright would come to Iowa City might end up being right.
I heard again today, and I've reported this before on here, that it will be a head coach and not an assistant.
4 p.m. Monday, March 22: Sorry for the lack of information the last two days, but the loose lips that sink ships - and coaching searches - have tightened up. Weekends never have been good for information as a rule anyway.
The waters of news and speculation still aren't running wild, but I was able to gather from information from a source today.
Word has it that Purdue Assistant and former Iowa player, Paul Lusk, might get a look and possibly an interview for the men's basketball coaching opening.
It sounds like Lusk might be receiving backing from the head honcho at Iowa, President Sally Mason. They are former colleagues at Purdue, where Mason was Provost from 2001-07 before taking the reigns at Iowa.
From what I'm hearing, Lusk is at the top of the list if Iowa were to go with an assistant. I still believe that Gary Barta is leaning heavily towards a standing head coach.
Therefore, I wouldn't lose your mind over this update. The information tells me that Iowa still prefers a standing head coach, which I like, and that Lusk is a long-shot but could get a courtesy interview.
Supposedly, Lusk is very involved in the Purdue community beyond the basketball activities. Mason admires that.
Lusk played one year at Iowa. He broke his leg and then transferred to Southern Illinois.
9 a.m. Saturday, March 20: Jamie Dixon is a name I heard as a possible replacement for Todd Lickliter from the jump. Several sources have stated that the Pittsburgh coach's agent has let it be know in college basketball circles that his client might be looking around and they are still sticking with that as of Friday.
Dixon makes $1.4 million annually at Pittsburgh, which is below the standard for a coach with his success rate. By comparison, Dave Wannstedt makes $1.2M, the same as Lickliter was earning at Iowa.
Perhaps the agent is just trying to force the hand of the Pittsburgh administration, who appears to be working on the cheap when it comes to head coaching salaries. Agents are sneaky like that.
However, it might be a good game of chicken in which Iowa would like to participate. I'd be surprised if Pittsburgh would go to $2M annually, which Iowa could and would do.
It's easy to dismiss Dixon as a possible candidate for Iowa. He's coaching an established program with good facilities in a power conference in a great sports city.
I do feel like I've heard from enough people for long enough that Dixon is willing to listen. As I said earlier, it's tough to gauge how sincere are his feelings about moving.
Pittsburgh basketball is down the list in the city's sports hierarchy. His salary is not in line with coaches as consistently successful as he. He's from the West Coast, so it's not as if the Panther gig was his dream job.
I'm keeping an eye on Pittsburgh in the Dance. I'm checking with the Pittsburgh papers, wading through the Steelers' news. I'd suggest you do the same. This is not a pie-in-the-sky candidate.
9 a.m. Friday, March 19: This morning, we give you the curious case of Steve Forbes. OK. It's not really curious. It's clear as day. I just like saying that because it has a nice ring to it.
No, it's pretty expected what is happening with the Tennessee assistant and native of Lone Tree, Iowa. He's telling anyone that will listen that he wants the Hawkeye gig and there's been a decent sized ground swell for his candidacy on our message boards and other areas of conversation dominated by this subject.
I don't blame Forbes at all for trying to drum up support. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him if he truly dreams of coaching his home state school. Why not campaign as hard as you can through all means?
The issue here is not Forbes' interest in Iowa. It's Iowa's interest in Forbes. It's far from being mutual at this point. If Gary Barta is looking his way, it's beyond a group of candidates who are more attractive to the AD.
That's not a knock on Forbes. He's in position to get a head coaching job because he's worked his way up the ladder.
However, Barta doesn't need to reach out to Forbes right now. The AD knows of his interest. He can wait to research and investigate better candidates. And, there are better candidates.
Forbes will be there down the road, Barta knows. There's a reason Forbes' door isn't being knocked down by other schools searching for a head coach.
Yes, Forbes boasts intangibles that appear to make him a good fit in Iowa City. But if Barta limits his search to someone that is reaching out for a chance and is connected to the program, he's doing all of us a disservice.
Again, I like Forbes. Barta is aware of him. But he's not going to end this thing early by passing over more qualified prospects for a guy that is campaigning for the gig.
9 a.m. Thursday, March 18: I hope everyone has slept off their St. Patty's Day celebration. Let's dive back into the Iowa men's basketball coaching search free of any green beer.
As I said last night, things are pretty quiet on the coaching search front. Gary Barta is locked into his pursuit and he's cagey enough to keep the information to himself.
I did speak with several sources on Wednesday in trying to gauge Bruce Pearl's interest in the Iowa position. I wish I would have overturned some more positive feedback.
Sources are consistently saying that Pearl really won't consider leaving Knoxville for Iowa City. As much as he loves Iowa, the he feels loyal to the folks at Tennessee and realizes he has a good things going on there, not to mention a contract that will pay him more than $2 million next season and keep rising the longer he stays at the SEC school.
Some of the folks with whom I've spoken know Pearl from his time as a Tom Davis assistant with the Hawkeyes. As much as they'd love to see him come back to Iowa City, they received feedback from him that he's not moving at this time.
They tell me that Pearl is going to push hard for his assistant, Steve Forbes, a native of Lone Tree, Iowa. I still think that Forbes will be down Barta's list of candidates. I'm pretty sure the athletics director is leaning heavily towards grabbing someone who is a current head coach.
I'll be back later today with another installment.
7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17: It was a pretty quiet St. Patty's Day for information on the Iowa men's basketball coaching search. I did hear a few tidbits, however.
Jon Miller from HN reported that B.J. Armstrong would have interest the gig. I talked to some folks about B.J. on Wednesday.
I got the sense that B.J. will get a courtesy call but I think it's more as a resource than as a coaching candidate. He served on the search committee for Lickliter.
B.J. is a sports agent, now, representing Derek Rose.
I'll be back in the morning with more news from the coaching search.
9 a.m. Wednesday, March 17: I've heard from another source in the know this morning that Tony Barbee is high on the list of candidates. That talk really is picking up the last few days.
Here's a look at Barbee's UTEP BIO